UK Men's Basketball

See what the brother of five-star Kentucky target had to say about his recruitment.

Brother in dark about 5-star recruit’s decision

Jaden McDaniels, a 5-star prospect likened to Kevin Durant, is considering Kentucky and Washington. He is the quiet type. even his brother has no idea what the choice will be.
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Jaden McDaniels, a 5-star prospect likened to Kevin Durant, is considering Kentucky and Washington. He is the quiet type. even his brother has no idea what the choice will be.

The college basketball recruiting world, especially the Kentucky and Washington corners of this world, await the decision of five-star prospect Jaden McDaniels.

Among those eager to know what school McDaniels picks is his older brother, who is one of the players in the NBA Combine here.

When will a decision be made?

“Whew, man, I’m wondering the same thing, honestly,” Jalen McDaniels said Thursday. “I mean, honestly. I feel like it should be coming soon, though.”

What’s holding up Jaden’s decision is a mystery to Jalen.

“To be honest, I don’t know what’s holding it up,”Jalen said. “I know it’s between two schools. He’s just trying to make the right decision.”

When a reporter mentioned Jaden’s reputation for being the strong, silent type, Jalen smiled and nodded.

“Yeah, he’s not really a talker-type,” he said. “He’ll get out of his shell one day.”

Jalen was not sure who Jaden takes after, or how he became noticeably reserved.

“He’s just always been that way,” Jalen said. “He’s always been the quiet dude.”

Of course, the recruiting world is rife with conversation starters. A five-star prospect still mulling his decision after the spring signing period turns up the volume on speculation. Questions about the recruiting process annoy Jaden.

Jalen likened Jaden’s attitude about recruiting questions to “those how-tall-are-you questions.”

Jaden, a 6-foot-10 forward who is ranked No. 7 in the country by Rivals, prefers to play on the perimeter. He has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant. Jalen said this was a credible comparison.

“He just plays well off the dribble,” Jalen said of his brother. “He has a high release point (and) a great stroke. He’s crafty, 6-10 crafty. He just gets to his spots and rises above the defender, so I feel that’s where that comparison comes from.”

Washington has the home-state advantage. The McDaniels brothers grew up in Seattle.

Of course, a player who is not the “talker-type” and Kentucky’s highly visible basketball program do not seem like an ideal combination. But Jalen said Jaden could handle the UK spotlight if he signs with the Wildcats.

“He’s a low-key guy,” Jalen said. “He doesn’t get caught up in that. Like, the attention doesn’t mean a lot to him. He knows it comes with it, but something that he doesn’t get caught up in it. So I feel he’d do fine.”

To do list

EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards put their names in this year’s NBA Draft. Neither was invited to the Combine.

If both return to Kentucky next season, what should they work on to improve their draft profile the way PJ Washington did this past season.

Mike Schmitz, ESPN’s draft analyst, offered suggestions.

With Montgomery, “it’s kind of finding his identity,” Schmitz said on a teleconference Thursday. “He can do a lot of different things. He’s unique because he’s 6-10, and he can step out a little bit on the perimeter.”

Montgomery also benefits from being 19 years old, Schmitz said. There’s time to improve.

“Getting tougher, finding his identity and try to figure out how he fits into all this,” Schmitz said of suggested priorities for Montgomery in a sophomore season for UK. “Because he doesn’t have an elite skill now.”

As for Richards, Schmitz called for working to develop a “consistent motor.”

Richards “has the tools and the physical gifts,” the ESPN analyst said. “But being able to hang his hat on being an athletic shot blocker, lob catcher, staying out of foul trouble. Thinking the game at a higher level. I think those things are all important for him.”

Traveling man

Among the top five players projected to be taken in this year’s NBA Draft, only Murray State guard Ja Morant is participating in the Combine.

In his interview session, he was asked if he’d been to Chicago before, or been to New York or been to Memphis. He is expected to be taken by the Memphis Grizzlies with the second pick. Morant, who is from Dalzell, S.C., responded with no, no and no.

“I really haven’t been to a lot of places (outside of) South Carolina,” he said.

Morant said he looked forward to expanding his horizons.

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